Wherever you go in New Mexico, you’ll find Spanish place names exalting God and things divine. Santa Fe—the state’s capital and the oldest capital in the United States—means Holy Faith. The Santa Cruz River is Spanish for River of the Holy Cross; the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Blood of Christ Mountains.
You’ll also find a litany of villages named for saints, including San Ysidro (Saint Isidore the Farmer), Santa Teresa (Saint Teresa of Avila), Santa Rosa (Saint Rose of Lima), and San Miguel (Saint Michael the Archangel). The town of Belén means Bethlehem.
Perhaps the most intriguing Spanish name of all was bestowed on the yucca: Lampara de Dios (Lamp of God). When the yucca—New Mexico’s state flower—blooms in late spring and early summer, the white blossoms resemble old-fashioned lamps. Some say the plant’s sword-shaped leaves represent the power of God’s Word, the white flowers His divine light unto our paths.
Copyright © 2017 Marion Amberg